Note: We mightn’t like mining, and it will be good when eventually product design is such that recycling of rare earths will pretty much eliminate this. Still, rare earths are needed in 21st Century technologies, especially in renewables. At least this company is not involved in the difficult and hazardous rare earths processing. I understand that processing is to be done in China, – where, after their disastrous history, they now do have the most advanced methods
Mining company Arafura Resources says plans to mine rare earth minerals in central Australia remain ‘on track’, despite uncertainty over future funding for the project, ABC Rural News 3 Sept 14, NT Country Hour By Carmen Brown
The company hopes to extract up to 20,000 tonnes of rare earth oxide per year from the Nolan’s Bore deposit, 135 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
A comprehensive project report released this week, indicates mining could begin at the site in 2019, six years later than previously expected. General manager of exploration and business development, Richard Brescianini, says while there has been strong interest in the project from investors, the company is yet to secure full financial backing for the mine……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-03/rare-earth-mine-on-track-for-central-australia/5715100
Nervous investors ditch Lynas ahead of move to Malaysia July 3, 2014 The Age, Brian Robins Troubled rare-earth miner Lynas Corp is to shift its head office abroad as part of a renewed cost-cutting regime as the company seeks to stop haemorrhaging cash.
It also comes amid production difficulties at its recently commissioned Malaysian processing unit that have yet to be resolved, and as negotiations continue to refinance a key funding package.
Lynas said it would move its head office to Kuala Lumpur, from Sydney, which will result in an unspecified number of job losses, with further jobs to go at its Perth office…….Investors were unnerved by the latest news, pushing Lynas shares down 7 per cent to close at 13¢.
Lynas is not the only rare earths producer encountering ongoing problems in lifting output, with US group Molycorp also struggling to bed down a capacity expansion.
Equally important to Lynas Corp’s near-term progress is resolving negotiations to refinance a $US325 million loan, via Nomura.
There has been ”no material development” with this refinancing, a Lynas spokesman said.
To help shore up its balance sheet, Lynas recently raised $40 million from shareholders as well as replacing its chief executive. http://www.smh.com.au/business/nervous-investors-ditch-lynas-ahead-of-move-to-malaysia-20140702-3b8so.html#ixzz36Xf4ozEk
Aust activist freed from Malaysia cell http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/aust-activist-freed-from-malaysia-cell/story-fni0xqll-1226970174011l AAP JUNE 28, 2014 SYDNEY woman Natalie Lowrey has been released after being detained for six days in Malaysia, where she was protesting against an Australian company’s metals plant.
MS Lowrey was arrested on Sunday while demonstrating at Lynas’ controversial plant for rare earths, which are used in tech products like smartphones.
Police were weighing a charge of unlawful assembly, which carries a maximum two-year jail term.
But on Friday night, as the New Zealander was preparing to spend a weekend behind bars with no visitors, she was suddenly released on bail.”It was a big surprise, I didn’t believe it until I had changed out of my purple jail uniform,” she told AAP.
“I felt very strong the whole week because I knew there were vigils all over Australia and Malaysia for me. I have a lot of people to thank.”
Lowrey was released along with 15 Malaysians who had also been arrested.
The lack of transparency around Ms Lowrey’s detention concerned lawyers and NGOs, who collected more than 15,000 signatures on a petition to free her.
She has her passport back and plans to leave Malaysia next week.
Strange time to suggest a LEGO nuclear future for Australia , Independent Australia, Noel Wauchope 21 April 2014, By 2022, Australia could have many “Lego-like” small nuclear reactors in operation, dotted about the nation. This is being proposed now, not just by the long-term fervent believers in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), but in formal submissions to the coming Energy White Paper.
Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.
The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.
The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.
‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’
Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as ‘Lego-like’.
In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.
America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s. Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.
But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..
It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author] Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.
So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.
This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.
In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:
- ‘Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
- ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
- ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals that could damage the reactor.’
- ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
- ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
- ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….
Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:
- ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
- ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
- ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
- ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
- Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
- Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
- Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404
Westinghouse out of unviable Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, and into lucrative Nuclear Decommissioning
Westinghouse backs out of Small Modular Reactor market Enformable Nuclear News Lucas W Hixson http://enformable.com/2014/02/westinghouse-backs-small-modular-reactor-market/Danny Roderick, President and CEO of Westinghouse announced that the nuclear firm is backing off of research and development of their Small Modular Reactor design. The Westinghouse design is a scaled down version of the AP1000 reactor, designed to produce 225 MWe, which could power 45,000 residential houses.
In December, the firm was passed over for a second time by the United States Department of Energy’s SMR commercialization program. Roderick clarified the issue and noted that it was not the deployment of the technology that posed the biggest problem – it was that there were no customers. “The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market,” he added
According to Roderick, unless Westinghouse was capable of producing 30 to 50 small modular reactors, there was no way that the firm would return its investment in the development project. In the end, given the lack of market, and the similar lack of federal funding, Westinghouse was unable to justify the economics of small modular reactors at this point.
Westinghouse was working with St. Louis-based Ameren, which had indicated its desire to build a new reactor near the State’s only existing nuclear reactor – the Calloway nuclear power plant, if a federal investment could be secured.
Westinghouse will focus its attentions on its decommissioning business, which is a $1 billion dollar per year business for the firm – which is equivalent to Westinghouse’s new reactor construction business, and rededicate its staff to the AP1000 reactor design.
Analysts are monitoring how the companies who did receive funding from the Department of Energy perform as they evolve. Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazett
a SILEX facility could make it much easier for a rogue state to clandestinely enrich weapons grade uranium to create nuclear bombs
SILEX could become America’s proliferation Fukushima,
Controversial nuclear technology alarms watchdogs http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/controversial-nuclear-technology-alarms-watchdogs/18138 By David Worthington | July 30, 2012 A controversial nuclear technology is raising alarms bells among critics who claim it may be better suited for making nuclear weapons than lowering the cost of nuclear power and could lead to a nonproliferation “Fukushima” for the United States.
SILEX (separation of isotopes by laser excitation) is a method for enriching uranium with lasers. It was developed by Australian scientists during the mid 1990’s as a way to reduce the cost of nuclear fuel, because uranium must be processed before it can be used to generate power.
The scientists formed Silex Systems to license the technology for commercialization, and that process is still ongoing. In 2000, the governments of Australia and the United States signed a treaty, giving the U.S. authority to review whether SILEX should be deployed. That’s because there could be a major proliferation problem. SILEX reduces the steps necessary to transform fuel grade uranium into to weapons-grade uranium, and the process doesn’t create telltale chemical or thermal emissions, according to an article published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. R. Scott Kemp, an assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, has the byline. Continue reading
there was little mention of the waste — or “residue”, as Lynas prefers to call it.
Lynas and its supporters assert its operations are completely safe, but as NM reported on Monday, others — including scientists — are less confident.
The IAEA also recommended that Lynas proceed no further until it had filed comprehensive plans for the permanent disposal of waste, decommissioning of the plant and remediation of the site at the end of its life.
Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream Aliran, 19 December 2012 Scientists and community leaders are concerned about radioactive waste from Lynas’ Malaysian plant but the company representative who took Wendy Bacon’s questions brushed off the criticism. This is the second of two articles about Lynas by Wendy Bacon. Read the first here.http://aliran.com/11005.html Australian rare earth company Lynas has always known it had a waste problem.
It plans to process rare earth concentrate, imported from its mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia, at its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) in Malaysia. It will not only produce rare earths for export but also a huge amount of waste, including more than a million cubic metres of low level radioactive material.
Lynas was originally going to build its Lamp plant in China, which produces more than 90 per cent of global rare earths. But according to its 2007 annual report, it decided to move to Malaysia, because the Chinese government was increasing its control over production, including applying environmental standards more strictly. Continue reading
Lynas will be in court in Malaysia on 19 December. The Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) campaigners will be appealing against the Kuantan High Court decision to lift its stay on the company being able to exercise its rights to proceed under the temporary licence.
The toxic waste that’s not in Australia’s backyard http://aliran.com/11005.html 18 Dec 12, Australian-owned company Lynas is quietly shipping rare earth to a processing plant in Malaysia – without a firm plan in place to dispose of dangerous radioactive waste. Wendy Bacon reports.
This is exactly how residents of Kuantan on Malaysia’s east coast reacted when the Australian company Lynas announced plans to build Lamp, the world’s biggest rare earth processing plant in their area.
Several years later, they have no clear answer. Indeed last week, while the plant that will use concentrate imported from Lynas’s rare earth mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia was finally ramping up for production, the Malaysian government and the company were in direct conflict about what would happen to the waste. Continue reading
Why should we allow anything less in terms of safety standards than Australia? Does the BN government feel that the Australian Government is being too fussy? Or that Malaysians can take more radiation than the Australians?
The Anti-Lynas movement: Are we being unreasonable? – Jeyakumar Devaraj, The Malaysian Insider , 13 Dec 12 Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj is a PSM central committee member and MP for Sungai Siput.“……..Vastly Differing Standards First, a brief overview of the industrial process of separating the rare earths from the rest of the ore.
Lynas actually has the license to operate a refining plant in Australia itself. Lynas acquired this license upon buying over Aston, the company that owned the mine in Mount Weld. In the mid 1990s, Ashton applied for a license to refine the ore, and in the process of consultations with the public in the region, agreed to a set of specific performances. If Lynas wants to use the refining license that came with the purchase of Ashton, it is committed to observing all the procedures agreed to by Ashton earlier.The table below compares requirements that Lynas would have to observe in Australia with the requirements for it in Malaysia.
The government has said in Parliament that Lynas is keen on operating a plant here because the total cost in Malaysia is only 30 per cent of the cost of refining the ore in Australia! (Despite the fact that it has to be transported from Mount Weld to Freemantle Port, loaded on ships and then brought some 4000 km to Kuantan for refining!) That means safety precautions in Malaysia are so much more lax than those required in Australia.
This point alone makes me uncomfortable. Continue reading
However the Temporary Operating License approved on 7/2/2012 allows Lynas to start operations even before they present their proposed plan for comprehensive management of the solid waste – the TOL only requires them to submit the waste management plan within 10 months of starting operations!!
Ten months have passed, and a safe permanent depository has yet to be identified and agreed upon by all parties. Instead Lynas is still talking of rendering the waste “safe”. Continue reading
Australian rare earths company Lynas may lose its Malaysian operating license over the radioactive waste issue
Four Malaysian cabinet MPs (responsible for trade, science, natural resources and health) have now released a joint statement, saying the temporary licence granted to Lynas requires it to remove “all the residue” from the plant out of the country.
They also warned that if Lynas does not comply, the Government can suspend or revoke the licence and order it “to immediately cease operation”.
Malaysia orders Lynas to ship out waste http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-11/an-malaysia-orders-lynas-to-ship-out-waste/4422084 Dec 11, 2012 . Australian mining company Lynas and its plans to process rare earths in Pahang state have caused local communities and environmental groups to raise concerns over the management of radioactive byproduct waste
Malaysia has ordered the Australian miner Lynas Corp. to ship out all the waste from its new rare earths plant, because of environmental and health concerns. Continue reading
Hello, didn’t Lynas say wastes to be exported? Malaysiakini Dec 10, 2012
‘Now is the time to ask the court to suspend the TOL because AELB has said that they will enforce Lynas pledge to export the waste.’
Wastes won’t be exported out of Malaysia, says Lynas
Odin: Lynas Malaysia managing director Mashal Ahmad, you have been reported to have said no residues from your plant would be exported out of Malaysia, as your company needed to abide by international conventions that prohibit the export of hazardous wastes to other countries.
This means that the residues which your plant will produce are toxic. All this while, however, we have been told that the residues would be safe to humans and the environment.
Does this not mean that your company, and those outside it but who support your operations, have been lying? Continue reading
Hello, didn’t Lynas say wastes to be exported? Malaysiakini Dec 10, 2012 Xabiso: Do the people know about the 12-year tax free incentive gifted to this foreign company listed in Australia? Why am I not surprise that they are keeping the toxic waste in Lynas?
I remember someone giving an assurance last time that the waste will be exported back to Australia. We are talking about the toxic waste from processing rare earth, not the raw material (if the raw material is radioactive, Australian can’t even send it to Malaysia).
Before plant operation – apa pun boleh (everything can be done). After start-up – dah tunjuk belang (show true colours). http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216281
Hello, didn’t Lynas say wastes to be exported? Malaysiakini Dec 10, 2012 Blogsmith: Now is the time to ask the court to suspend the temporary operating licence because AELB DG has said that they will enforce Lynas’ pledge to export the waste.
From this Malaysiakini report: Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan has clarified that the regulatory body will enforce Lynas’ pledge to export all its waste in the form of commercial products overseas.
“The management and removal of residue is an integral part of the Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) conditions and agreements and is permanently documented in the licence document issued to Lynas on Sept 5, 2012.
“Issue of removal of residue being non-binding for Lynas, does not arise. It is legally binding and AELB will enforce it.” http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216281
Hello, didn’t Lynas say wastes to be exported? Malaysiakini Dec 10, 2012 Kgen: What cheaper production cost? What about the cost of transporting the earth from Australia to Malaysia? Most of the processes are automated so labour cost does not factor significantly in the production cost.
Does the 12-year tax holiday, lax environmental standards and an authoritarian regime which can impose its will on the people have anything to do with the choice of location?http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216281
Hello, didn’t Lynas say wastes to be exported? Malaysiakini Dec 10, 2012 Not Confused: So, the waste from the Lynas plant cannot be exported from Malaysia because it is hazardous, as defined under the international convention.
I had refrained from commenting on this issue as I felt that too many professionals, supposedly with some integrity, had reported and clearly stated that there was no risk to any Malaysians from the operation of the plant.
However, it is now confirmed that the waste from the plant will indeed be toxic so will have to be “disposed of” in Malaysia.
This seems like Malaysia is being used as a dumping ground simply because operating costs here are less and we have a corrupt government which is presumably being paid handsomely for licensing their operations. http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216281